NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Mets will work out Cuban star third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and could make a run at shortstop Jose Reyes this weekend, according to reports.
The Mets have scheduled a private workout for Gourriel next week, assistant general manager John Ricco told MLB.com.
Major League Baseball cleared Gourriel, a 32-year-old defector, earlier this month.
Gourriel played 14 seasons in Cuba and one in Japan. He batted .335 in his career with 250 homers and more than 1,000 RBIs. Last season, he hit .500 with 15 home runs in 49 games for Industriales of the Cuban League.
He also was a member of the Cuban national team during the 2008 Olympics and the past three World Baseball Classics.
He is reportedly seeking an eight-figure contract.
Reyes, however, would come much cheaper if he clears waivers as expected Saturday. With the Rockies on the hook for the remaining $41 million of Reyes’ contract, the Mets would only have to pay him $277,000 for the rest of the season.
New York is reportedly weighing the benefits of bringing back Reyes — he played for the Mets from 2003-11 — against the potential backlash stemming from the four-time All-Star’s 52-game suspension this season for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. Reyes, meanwhile, is reportedly intrigued by the idea of returning to Flushing.
Citing an unnamed source, Newsday reported Thursday night that “all signs are pointing toward a reunion as soon as this weekend.”
In 116 games last season with the Blue Jays and Rockies, Reyes batted. 274 with seven home runs, 53 RBIs, 57 runs and 24 stolen bases.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Friday he has talked with his coaches about how the team would utilize Reyes if he is signed.
The Mets could use help at third base following David Wright’s surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Collins said he and his coaches also discussed the 33-year-old Reyes playing second base and the outfield. He said “everybody” thinks Reyes could handle those positions.
Collins said the talk is speculative and “we have nothing that’s etched in stone.”
Team insiders told MLB.com that if the Mets sign Reyes, it would not necessarily count them out of the sweepstakes for Gourriel, who has worked out for the Dodgers and is expected to draw interest from other teams.
The Mets, who will be without Wright until at least September, could also explore a trade for a third baseman such as Oakland’s Danny Valencia or the White Sox’s Todd Frazier. But signing Reyes and/or Gourriel would not cost them prospects.
New York is in desperate need of some help offensively if it hopes to make another serious World Series run. The Mets are currently 29th in the majors in batting average and 28th in runs scored. They are 38-33 and trail Washington by four games for the NL East lead.
Last week, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon told reporters the team “might need to do something before” the Aug. 1 trade deadline. “We’ve got to start playing better baseball now,” he said.
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